Newscasts

PNS Daily News - September 25, 2017 


Here’s a look at what we’re highlighting: new travel restrictions announced for eight countries; research highlights a drop in uninsured kids; and weekend protests over the House Speaker’s tax plan.

Daily Newscasts

Farm to School Program Looks to Grow in Michigan, Nationwide

At least 180 school gardens are growing in Michigan thanks to Farm to School programs. (KyleJones/morguefile)
At least 180 school gardens are growing in Michigan thanks to Farm to School programs. (KyleJones/morguefile)
September 12, 2017

LANSING, Mich. – A program that helps connect more than 700,000 Michigan students to local farmers would get a big boost under new legislation. The Farm to School Act of 2017 would expand the existing USDA Farm to School Grant Program by improving access to local foods at schools.

Maximilian Merrill, policy director for the National Farm to School Network, explains it's a win-win: Farmers source their food to schools and students learn about agriculture.

"Students participating in educational activities related to agriculture, food and nutrition and health - and school gardens, so students engage in hands-on learning through gardening so they understand where their food comes from and the difficulty it is to grow that healthy food," he explains.

Forty-three percent of Michigan school districts currently participate in farm-to-school activities. The bill asks for funding to be increased annually for the program from five to $15 million to better meet the demand for the program. Bipartisan companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate.

The Farm to School Act of 2017 would expand the program to summer food-service program sites and after-school programs, and encourage farm-to-school partnerships between beginning farmers, veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Merrill notes that the program helps boost farmers' bottom lines.

"In 2013-2014, that school year, there was $790 million in local foods purchased from farmers, ranchers and fishermen," he says. "And if you look at the multiplying factor, that leads to over $1 billion pushed into the local economy."

With more than 1,500 participating schools in Michigan, that amounted to nearly $20 million invested in local foods.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI